CAMBERWELL RAILWAY STATION
The story so far –from 1999 to 2012
Sometime in 1999, the state Government decided to seek interest in developing the Camberwell Station precinct with a view to gaining an economic advantage from railway land and assets,
The plan was that this could be the forerunner to station development at many other railway station sites.
It wasn’t until 2002 that Council got wind of a proposal to develop over Camberwell Station and a preferred developer, Tenterfield Pty. Ltd. had been commissioned by VicTrack to come up with a design concept.
The plan was for a three story commercial/retail building on the corner of Burke Rd. and Cookson St. extending south over the platforms to the carpark and back to the station buildings. This would rise to four stories over the carpark area.
A small group of locals from nearby letter-boxed the broader residents to alert them and a committee was formed under the name “Camberwell Station Action Group”. A further and much larger letter-box campaign was conducted and, to make the flyer stand out, a red paper ribbon was attached. This produced a large response including one from our local international actor Geoffrey Rush.
A protest meeting was arranged at the Camberwell Civic Centre and a full to overflowing crowd unanimously voted to take action to stop this unwanted and inappropriate development.
In view of the government and VicTrack’s determination to press ahead.
a march was organized of over 2000 residents and supporters from other resident protest groups against this inappropriate development.
The protest started at the Junction stopping trams and other traffic and, led by Geoffrey Rush and Barry Humphries, marched up Burke Road to the Station where a very noisy and angry rally was held.
Both the protest meeting and the march were widely covered by the general media, radio and TV.
As a result of this the Camberwell Station Action Group was seen by other protest Groups as an example of successful protest and received many requests for help.
Subsequently, the group was incorporated as a registered association in
2004 with a paid up membership of 300. It changed it’s name to Boroondara Residents’ Action Group (BRAG) because other inappropriate developments were becoming more prevalent in and around Boroondara. Membership has been growing and now is in excess of 500.
The then Planning Minister Delahunty intervened to require the station proposal to have a residential component which would mean that the development would be bigger and higher. At the time Delahunty was under pressure and subsequently she resigned.
In 2003, after intervention by Council (following intense pressure from BRAG and the residents) an Urban Design Framework committee was formed with representatives from the Council, residents, commercial property owners and retailers to consider the options.
Three recommendations were put to Council by the committee for building options mainly on the carpark site.
- No development
- 3 story development
- 5 story development
BRAG commissioned an architect and a landscape architect to come up with a more sympathetic response which would be more readily accepted by the local community – resulting in a plan for a low scale community centre and open public plaza on the carpark area with car parking below.
A professionally built model was made, to make promotion of this plan easier. which was generally very favourably received.
Council put the UDF alternatives to the community for their response and BRAG urged the residents to indicate their preference for it’s low scale proposal instead. 60% favoured BRAG’s option against 17% for one of the UDF’s recommendations. The others really did not rate.
As a result, at the Council Planning Committee meeting to decide, a motion to consider the community Centre /open plaza design was put and carried and negotiations were started with the Government to progress this idea. These negotiations stalled just before the coming elections and, as far as we know, were not re-started.
It is interesting to note that the public relations material that was released when the new much bigger development for over the station was launched by VicTrack, just before Christmas 2007, the wording used seems to imply that the Council “deferred the decision and has not yet made a decision,
In December 2005 after costly submissions shared by the Victorian National trust and BRAG, a heritage overlay was approved for the Camberwell Railway Station, which covers the buildings, platforms and Cookson St. garden embankment with protection for the view line from the footbridge
However, the new VicTrack development proposal approved by VCAT is for a ten storey commercial and residential complex on the car park site and a 3 story commercial building over the station on the Cookson St.heritage protected embankment. It seems the government and its instrumentality VicTrack is determined to destroy this area with an unsympathetic very modern building complex which, along with other unsympathetic developments in the shopping precinct, will destroy Camberwell as we know it.
However the fight is not finished yet, so watch this space.
STOP PRESS: Victrack announced in October 2012 that the latest development proposal of 10 storeys has been abandoned.
BRAG is now lobbying the State Government to have the site handed over to the Boroondara Council subject to Council committing to build the community vision for a low scale community center set in a landscaped open plaza with a car park below. This may raise some financial issues but we will keep trying.
(Edited by Jack Roach - original submission Monday, 10 December 2007, 01:27 PM)
(Edited by Jack Roach - original submission Tuesday, 13 November 2012, 01:48 AM)
(Edited by Jack Roach - original submission Tuesday, 13 November 2012, 01:52 AM)
(Edited by Jack Roach - original submission Tuesday, 13 November 2012, 01:53 AM)